What may otherwise seem to be a post-school musical concert, Willow Tree End-of-Year Celebration will have much more meaning for at least some of its participants and attendees, Kylie Tatarka says.
The Batavia High School senior will not only be performing in the event but also absorbing its implications.
“Definitely for me, I can definitely see this being a hard time for me, seeing an end and saying goodbye to a lot of people that I've spent years forging relationships with,” the 18-year-old said during an interview with The Batavian. “But I also think it's going to be something really sweet, and a really nice memory to hold on to that I otherwise wouldn't have.”
The Willow Tree celebration, performed by the school district’s Tri-M Music Honor Society, will feature vocal and instrumental numbers from 4 to 6 p.m. June 3 under the large willow tree in front of BHS, 260 State St., Batavia.
Tatarka has been a member of Tri-M, a nationally founded organization that means Modern Music Masters, for three years. Now as a senior, she is looking forward to continuing music with a performing arts scholarship while also hanging onto those memories from school, she said.
“I just really enjoyed music and I wanted to join something that would bring other people who really enjoy music as well,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of something that would show spirit and our love for music that other regular students who aren't a part of this would show.”
The concert is a culmination of that passion to enjoy and share a variety of musical styles — classical, musical theater, and then-contemporary of the 1960s. A soloist will perform Frank Sinatra’s My Way and ensembles will provide other tunes, aptly including “On the Willows” from Godspell.
TRi-M was founded locally in 1986. Group advisor Melzie Case, a music teacher at the middle school, and District Superintendent Jason Smith were members of the group, with Smith being one of those first-time inductees.
“If memory recalls accurately, I was a member of the inaugural Tri-M Society in the late 1980s,” he said. “I was honored to have been inducted and it was and is a wonderful way to recognize our talented music students at Batavia.”
For Case, it wasn’t just about the music, but about the other elements of becoming an adult.
“For me, it was very helpful in learning a lot of leadership skills and how to run a meeting, because I'm a part of a lot of groups and committees. I'm also on the board for the Genesee Symphony Orchestra,” Case said. “And so just getting those skills of writing an agenda and holding a meeting and voting was very helpful to me now as an adult, professionally.”
The idea for this novel year-end concert came about when a fellow senior suggested it to Tatarka. He wanted something that would “celebrate our end to Tri-M and becoming seniors and graduating this year, since there’s only two of us,” she said.
“We kind of just wanted something that we can show our talents, and also just have a celebration for everyone in the school along with Tri-M,” she said.
“Music has been in my family for years and it's something that has brought my siblings and I together a lot,” she said. “And it's also given me a second family that I can lean on when I can't lean on my actual family.”
The 24-member group will be performing throughout the two-hour period, and there will be an ice cream chill truck and a food truck from Center Street Smokehouse selling items from savory meals to sweet creamy desserts. Although the celebration is free, attendees may want to bring some money to enjoy a meal while listening to live entertainment, Case said. Everyone is encouraged to bring a lawn chair.
Tri-M was nationally founded in 1936 by Alexander Harley and his wife Frances. He was a band director and music department chairman in Illinois, and the group had a focus on music aptitude, academics and leadership skills. There are 2,100 chapters in all 50 states that involve more than 84,000 students.
Another key component is offering community service, which has been a tradition for the BHS chapter, Case said. The group has sprinkled doses of music at nonprofit agencies, businesses and special events, such as Christmas caroling throughout downtown.
Photos: The willow tree at BHS, top; and, The BHS Tri-M Music Honor Society provides some holiday vocals at the Coffee Hub. Photos submitted by Melzie Case.